Demigod Review

By Scott Alan Marriott - Posted Apr 22, 2009

Take a look at the new team-based action game 'Demigod' for the PC. Combining RTS and RPG elements. Players take control of Demigods and try to defeat their opponents in different arenas. It leans heavily on a competitive multiplayer aspect, that should have you competing with friends to take control of different zones on the map. But, is it good? Find out in this X-Play Review.

The Pros
  • Fast-paced, action-oriented combat
  • Eight crazy characters
  • Four addictive game types
The Cons
  • No tutorial, story, or traditional solo campaign
  • Some balance issues

Designed by the company responsible for such wildly divergent franchises as Dungeon Siege and Supreme Commander, Demigod is part strategy, part action, and part role-playing game. This potpourri approach to game design is a risky one, one that is sure to frustrate those looking for an undiluted take on their favorite genre. In Demigod, there's not enough management for a strategy game, not enough character customization or progression for a role-playing game, and not enough freedom for an action game. And yet somehow, perhaps through divine influence, Demigod rises above the sum of its parts and manages to be addictively fun.

Gods and Monsters

DemigodVeterans of the StarCraft and WarCraft III mod scene will recognize Demigod's "hero defense" premise, which has you controlling a single commander instead of the entire army. Fast-paced battles take place within an open arena of sorts, with each faction starting on opposite ends. There is one home base to protect, called the citadel, some shops to purchase ability-enhancing items and potions, flags to control, and a smattering of defensive towers and fortresses to slow the advancing armies. Throngs of suicidal grunts or "creeps" continuously spawn from each side and run across specific lanes or pathways on the map. Your job, as one of four assassins or four generals, is to actively ensure your army's success by taking out opposing demigods, structures, and eventually, the citadel.

The eight demigods, who look like they should be starring in a cheesy fantasy fighting game (War Gods II?), are equally divided among the forces of light and darkness. The difference between assassins and generals is the level of control. Assassins are just that, offensive demigods who specialize in pure, unadulterated destruction, while generals can summon underlings to do their dirty work. There is no structure creation, outside of a few demigod powers, nor are there resources to gather other than maintaining control of certain beneficial flags. Once a structure is destroyed on a map, it’s gone for good. Gold is automatically earned by each side and shared by the team. This currency is used to tweak out your character, upgrade building defenses, enhance the computer-controlled creeps, and more. How you spend your gold ultimately determines whether you win or lose.

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Flying Blind

DemigodWhile the game's mechanics are easy to grasp after a few games under your belt, you are baptized by fire as soon as you start a match. There is no interactive tutorial to help explain what the heck you are supposed to be doing or how you are supposed to be doing it. Knowledge is derived from trial and error, from figuring out your demigod's powers to deciding on citadel upgrades to using the interface. Fortunately, each icon has a tooltip that explains the basics. Yet would have it been so difficult to include a ten-minute tour through the game's features? Another gripe for some will be the lack of a solo campaign, as there are only two options for single players: skirmish and tournament, with the latter consisting of eight cumulative matches on random maps with varying objectives.

There are four game types in Demigod: conquest, where you take out the opposing citadel; slaughter, a deathmatch-variant that ends when you kill a set number of demigods; fortress, which involves eliminating the opposing side's defensive structures; and dominate; where your team earns war points for maintaining control of flags. Each game type can be customized with a plethora of options, from starting level and gold to creep and tower strength. Up to ten players, computer or human, can compete on a choice of eight maps. Though you can actually buy equipment for your demigod, it is only good for the duration of the match. The only thing that persists is favor points, earned by killing, upgrading, and conquering, which can be used to purchase a special item/power for use in future games.

Simply Smashing

What makes Demigod fun to play? The heroes. From a towering behemoth called the Rook, who wields a giant hammer and uses archers perched on his massive shoulder, to a sultry siren named the Queen of Thorns, who triggers waves of deadly spikes while battling in or out of her giant flower (!), the powers you get to tinker with will make you smile. Each character also levels up quickly (up to a cap of 20), letting you add new or enhance existing skills to create multiple, viable builds. Another huge plus is the over-the-top atmosphere in this game, with the carnage overseen by a voice actor who was clearly trained at the Mortal Kombat School of Empowering Praise. You'll be constantly updated with who killed what, who assisted who, and other pertinent developments with bellowing cries of "wrathful!" "smiter!" "rampaging!" and "devastating!"
 
Those looking for a fast-paced, teamwork-oriented strategy game that leaves micromanagement (okay, most management) at the door will enjoy Demigod immensely. There is constant action, plenty of offensive options, and amusing feedback. Are there some quibbles? Certainly. Targeting can be difficult, certain demigods seem more powerful than others, you can't click on the mini-map to move, and the AI on anything less than "hard" isn't much of challenge. Yet with skirmishes designed to last minutes instead of hours, persistent multiplayer tournaments that have light and dark factions amassing points over time, and an upgrade system that gives you a surprising amount of flexibility on the battlefield, Demigod is a refreshing change of pace from the traditional RTS model.

Article Written By: Scott Alan Marriott